Background: Living donor lobar lung transplantation is a viable therapy for carefully selected patients with end-stage pulmonary disease. Its success is largely dependent upon donor outcome, including both physical and emotional factors. To date, there has been little focus on psychosocial outcomes of lobar lung donors.
Methods: Retrospective evaluation of 15 of 20 living lobar lung transplant donors was performed. Donors underwent evaluation of pulmonary function after recovery from donor lobectomy. Participants completed two self-report questionnaires, the SF-36 Health Survey (SF-36) and the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), as well as an open-ended psychiatric interview.
Results: After lobar donation, mean forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV(1)) decreased by 21 +/- 2%, forced vital capacity (FVC) decreased by 16 +/- 3%, total lung capacity (TLC) decreased by 15 +/- 3%, and single-breath diffusing capacity (DLCO) decreased by 14 +/- 4%. All subjects scored higher than the national average on both the physical and mental health components of the SF-36. The BDI scores showed no evidence of clinical depression. However, the subjective interviews elicited two common complaints: (1) a decline in exercise performance, not accounted for by resting lung function measurements; and (2) a dissatisfaction with the degree of acknowledgment of their donation.
Conclusions: Living lobar lung transplant donors enjoy generally satisfactory physical and emotional health. Donors report positive feelings about donation, but wish to be recognized and valued by the transplant team and by the recipient. Despite preservation of lung function within the normal range, some donors also experience a subjective decline in exercise tolerance. Long-term medical and psychologic follow-up appears warranted to monitor symptoms of exercise impairment and to enhance the donor experience.